Photo by Rémi Walle on Unsplash

Wave Good Bye To AOL Instant Messenger

The chat app which started it all is signing off. December 15 will be the last day for AOL Instant Messenger. For those too young to remember the 1997 startup which dominated online chat in America, there are still loyal fans using AIM.

“We know there are loyal fans who used AIM for decades. We loved working and building the first chat app,” AOL wrote on the app’s help page. “Our focus is always to provide the sort of innovative experiences consumers crave.

Consumers will be able to download images they sent until December 15, but the app’s download links have already started to disappear. There’s no way to save or ‘port’ your buddy list.

Originally build into the AOL desktop, AIM launched as a standalone in 1997. Its iconic Away Messages was a distant ancestor to modern tweets and status updates. It fought for supremacy with ICQ, and messengers from Yahoo and Microsoft. Eventually text messaging giants, Google’s GChat and Facebook won the day. AIM never grasped how to go mobile. Then AOL fell from grace dropping from $224 billion in 2018 dollars to just $4.4 billion when when Verizon bought the company in 2015.

To put it in context what AOL let slip away, WhatsApp sold the same year, to Facebook, for over $19 billion.

AIM was always a portal not understood by parents. That corner of the digital world made AIM feel like a clandestine coolness, kind of like getting a first car. Social technology would move on and change how we interacted with others.

So, goodbye to AIM and that kid with the embarrassing screen name, KDog313, where ever he is.

Jerry Nelson is an American freelance writer now living the expat life in South America. His work has appeared in some of the planet’s largest — and most respected — media outlets, both under his own name and others’ as he frequently ghost writes.

Never far from his coffee and Marlboros, Jerry is always interested in discussing future work opportunities. Email him at jandrewnelson2@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter.


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